Category Archives: Turf & Mower Repair

Reel Grinding/Sharpening


This time of year most everyone thinks i sit on my ass cause the golf course is closed. Actually this is one of the busiest times of the year for me. This is when winter maintenance goes into full swing. Since i have over 40 reel units in the fleet by themselves, this is about the only time of the year i get to do some of them. Greens reels need to be sharpened once a month as they actually throw sand on the greens once a week to improve turf conditions. it also pisses me off, but it isn’t the end of the world. Anyways sharpening reels is always an on-going thing. in the picture you see there is my reel grinder. basically it spin-grinds the reel in reverse rotation to sharpen all the blades of the reel. where like when you sharpen a rotary blade using a grinding wheel- here we have a spinning stone travelling back and forth along the reel and the reel is also driven in reverse. hence spin-grind.


 Now, the reel isn’t the only thing that needs to be sharpened. the bedknife needs to be removed and either reground back into shape or replaced. the bedknife will wear in a taper fashion very similar to the cylinders on a chevy engine block. So we chuck it into the bedknife grinder to level it back off. there are two edges on the bedknife and it is not a right angle piece a steel the reel cuts against. The relief needs to be ground into the top and sits behind the edge the reel cuts against. it gives a place for the cut grass to move away from the cutting edge. when this gets wore down, it will almost rip off and pinch the grass off rather than allow the reel to cut the grass. obviously if you following this at all, running sand through the reel accelerated this dramatically.Than there is the face of the blade, which is the front face of the knife that comes into contact with the grass. it actually sits at a 95deg angle to the relief. the face is what holds the grass briefly as the reel cuts it off like a reaper. the shorter the grass to be cut- the thinner the face of the bedknife has to be.

once both of these are sharpened, i set the gap, which is less than .003″. i use printer paper as it is cheap and won’t damage the edges of the blade. you basically want it to rub the paper without cutting it- and i run no contact so the reel should not or just barely touch the bedknife. Height of cut is set using a dial indicator-setting the rollers to the cutting edge. the rollers need


 to be within .003-5″ otherwise it will leave stripes on the greens.

Well, that reel grinding in a nutshell. it keeps me busy through the winter, and the summer, along with running some of the equipment. And if you want to see what my office looks like here it is. i have mice running out from the wall underneath the desk at times, the walls are collapsing, and the roof has pieces blowing in the wind. if you think Government work is all glory you have another thing comming!

Turf Mowers


Well, i figured i would try something else so i made a new section of the Blog to post about what i do for a living  here at the golf course/forest preserve and what is involved in turf /equipment repair. i am starting with reel grinding, which is basically sharpening. What you see here to the left is what we call a reel unit. it is based off the same design like the old time push mowers from the turn of the century except it is driven by either a hydraulic or electric motor rather than ground speed. We use reel type cutting units like this for golf as you can better control the cut to a point where it is pretty much like machining grass. this simply cannot be done with a common rotary type blade you would use to cut the grass on the front lawn.

Basically you have a reel of 5, 7, or 11 blades the spins at a high rate of speed. at the bottom you have a bedknife which the reel cuts against. as it comes across the grass blades, the reel cuts the blades of grass more like a reaper. the velocity of the blade cuts it. the bedknife acts more like a holding member rather than having a scissor effect to cut the grass.

Now for those of you who know anything about golf or take it seriously, you may understand what i am talking about when i say we have 6 different heights of cut we maintain on the golf course. they are as follows with a brief description:

Greens- mowed at .120″ set using a dial indicator and has a .003″ of tolereance. this has to done daily. usually using an 11 blade reel and thin bedknife.

Tee’s and collars- this is the cut on the tee boxes, the grass surrounding the green, and the approach immediately infront of it. here at my course we mow this at .375″ using a 7 blade reel.

Fairways- this is the spot where if you are like me golfing, you never seem to hit the ball in. this height of cut is about .420 here at my course and we use 7 blade reels with a thick bedknife.

Surrounds- this is the grass that is around the sand traps, or rather bunkers, on the course. we go around 1 1/2″ on this height of cut using a 5 blade reel and set it with a tape measure to be honest. it is not as accurate so you usually end up trying to get an even cut my trial and error. there are also rotary mowers for this.

step cut- same height and machines that we use for surrounds. this is a step of grass that rings the fairway. you can also use rotary blades for this cut.

Rough- this is basically just like your front lawn. it is everything else and we mow at 2 1/2″ here. Except here we use a 50,000$ rotary blade mower about 12 feet wide with 7 hydraulic driven decks.

Now, you can see by the way i list it, the taller the grass cut is- the less blades you need on the reel and/or you can even go to a rotary blade. the most critical of all of these is the greens. it is about as close to trying to machine grass as you will ever get. the machines we use on greens are called a triplex mower and have 3 reel units on each machine. fairway mowers have 5 reel units. although they do not need to be sharpened daily, they must be adjusted for wear. As little as .005″ too much gap on one reel unit  will make the cut look like shit-translated means the superintendant becomes a pain in the mechanic’s ass til it’s fixed. it can leave an ugly stripe or drastically effect the way the ball rolls on the green. i tell ya what when you fork out 50 bucks for a round of golf and a car, you want the greens to be top notch not like golfing in a cow pasture. the overall goal is to have quick rolling greens and have all the turf looking excellent. Now my end of the job is basically to maintain the cut, getting the shit to grow right is the responsibility of the superintendant, and that’s a whole nother topic believe it or not.